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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 08:32 AM ET, 03/31/2011

The Morning Plum

* Shutdown talks resume as Dems edge towards GOP position: GOP and Dem negotiators appear to have reached a general agreement that an additional $33 billion in cuts would constitute an acceptable compromise, though plenty of haggling remains over the details and over Planned Parenthood and other politically charged “riders.” Key point: This is actually more than the GOP leadership originally was asking for, before the Tea Party dragged the GOP leadership (and of course Dems followed) further to the right.

Also important: Joe Biden’s re-entry into the budget talks is meant to signal that the White House is not privately negotiating with GOP leaders around Senate Dems or preparing to give Republicans more than Senate Dems are comfortable with, as some had feared.

* What’s Obama’s bottom line in budget fight? E.J. Dionne on how Obama has thus far refused to take a side in the budget wars, at least in the sense of laying down clear priorities that Dems should not back away from no matter what.

* Obama to cave on House GOP push to gut the EPA? The reporting is very sketchy, but it appears possible that the White House is prepared to allow some of the House GOP’s efforts to roll back the EPA’s regulatory powers into the final budget deal.

As Kevin Drum asks: “Is Obama giving up on global warming?”

* CIA action in Libya paves way for money and weapons to flow: Both the Post and the Times confirm Reuters’s explosive report that Obama signed a secret order authorizing covert support for the rebels, but both suggest that the CIA’s current activities may be confined to intelligence gathering for airstrikes and to vet the rebels.

That would square with White House spokesman Jay Carney’s insistence that no decision has yet been made on whether to arm them, and that the administration is only “assessing” the workability of that possibility, but it does pave the way for money or weapons to begin flowing.

* Covert action history lesson of the day: Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller offer a friendly reminder of where such covert actions can lead:

Such operations are fraught with risks. The CIA’s history is replete with efforts that backfired against U.S. interests in unexpected ways. In perhaps the most fateful example, the CIA’s backing of Islamic fighters in Afghanistan succeeded in driving out the Soviets in the 1980s, but it also presaged the emergence of militant groups, including al-Qaeda, that the United States is now struggling to contain.

* Obama cabinet deeply divided over arming rebels: Obama’s top advisers appear to be deeply split over whether to go forward with the arming of rebels, perhaps reflecting a sense that going that route would be a clear abandonment of the mission as originally defined, and would constitute crossing over into new territory with no clear exit.

* Libya question of the day: In light of the news about covert activity, Fareed Zakaria’s question is a good one: “Does the U.S. really want to own Libya?”

* Apparently, Marco Rubio wants us to own Libya: Senator Rubio, who really seems to be stepping out of late, calls on the Senate to vote to authorize our Libya mission and to define its goal as regime change. Of course, Rubio knows this is never going to happen, because it would require the Democratic majority (Dems control the Senate, remember?) to buck the President.

* Dems to go on offensive on tax hikes for the rich ... next year: Dems are tentatively planning to take a stand on hiking taxes for the rich in next year’s budget showdown, on the interesting theory that they will somehow have more leverage next time because they agreed to the GOP’s spending cuts this time around.

* Will history repeat itself on shutdown? For those who need a refresher, Mark Blumenthal digs deep into the 1995 polling and finds that President Clinton was able to rise above the fray while the GOP sank. One crucial difference this time, of course, is that John Boehne r has shredly avoided becoming an abrasive and high-visibility figure that risks becoming the focus of public anger in the event of a shutdown this time.

* Tea Party growing in unpopularity: Rachel Weiner wraps up all the polls showing that the unpopularity of the Tea Party is on the rise, wihch suggest that mainstream Americans are growing disenchanted with this “movement” as they learn the truth about its extreme positions, such as they are.

This also creates a challenge for GOP leaders: “aligning too closely with the tea party creates the possibility of running afoul of some significant chunk of people outside of the Republican base.”

* Gabrielle Giffords for Senate? Her advisers and friends begin tentatively suggesting that she just might recover in time to run for retiring Senator Jon Kyl’s seat next year, and begin imagining the campaign that might be, though it seems wise to expect that this won’t actually happen.

* And the New Black Panther land of make believe remains blissfully undisturbed: As expected, the Office of Professional Responsibility’s report clearing the Obama administration of wrongdoing in the bogus New Black Panther tale hasn’t done a thing to disturb the fantasy world of cover-ups and anti-white racism that conservatives created around this whole affair.

What else is happening?

By  |  08:32 AM ET, 03/31/2011

 
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